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History Students Learn About Life in Russia During the Cold War

Oleg and Valentina Hotofikina with their daughter Svetlana Kirlan (middle) talk about life under the communists.

On Friday May 18, 2012 as part of their A.P. U.S. History class's discussion of the era of the Cold War, Mr. Dan Korn's third period A.P.U.S.H. class experienced a lesson in global awareness. The class had to deal with life in the Soviet Union under communism, and were involved in a discussion with three former citizens of the Russian province of Ukraine.

Mrs. Svetlana Kirlan, parent of A.P.U.S.H. student Pavel Podolskiy, and Pavel's grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Oleg and Valentina Hotofikina, spoke on life under the communists. Mrs. Kirlan spoke about being a teenager being educated under a communist system, and how that compared to the American education system. (For example, Russian students start school at age seven.) Mrs. Kirlan acted as interpreter for her parents, and the class was involved in a very lively question-and-answer discussion conducted in Russian and English.

Mrs. Hotofikina is a former Communist Party official. She discussed in a very lively and informative way several of the class's prepared questions which were given to the visitors in advance. She stated that in reality Russia had lived under socialism, as communism in its purest form was unworkable. She presented the class with a Russian calendar map that featured for each month a series of pictures of work projects to build a dam and hydroelectric project on a Russian river.

Mr. Hotofikina is a retired heavy construction truck driver, and served in the Russian Army, and was part of the clean up of the massive Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident. Through Mrs. Kirlan he told the class about what he witnessed at Chernobyl, and what kind of work and safety precautions were required for him to help clean up what is still the world's worst nuclear accident.

Written by: Dan Korn, AP US History Teacher
Posted: May 21, 2012 by April Dawkins

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